Lists

The 20 highest-paid footballers in the world have been revealed – but is Messi or Ronaldo top?

Lionel Messi salary

The latest list from France Football reveals the ongoing Messi v Ronaldo rivalry, the sustained rise of China, and the demise of Bayern Munich

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

The top-paid players in the world in 2019 have been revealed by France Football magazine.

The new list sees the return of that longstanding Leo Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo rivalry, with the two unsurprisingly taking up the top two spots on this list.

Ronaldo, who secured a lucrative move to Juventus last year, now has an annual income of around £97 million – but even that's eclipsed by the £112 million Messi rakes in each year.

Both players have been handed hefty fines for tax evasion in the last couple of years, with Ronaldo’s recent €18.8 million penalty the larger of the two.

Five of the top 20 players ply their trade in the Premier League, although two – Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez (9th) and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil (13th) – are struggling to get much playing time this season, and may move on this summer. Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero (16th) and Kevin De Bruyne (17th) make the list, while Manchester United’s Paul Pogba also features at No.19.

Only one British player makes it into the top 20: Wales’s Gareth Bale (5th), who plays for Real Madrid. Two other Madrid players, Toni Kroos (12th) and Sergio Ramos (20th), make the cut, although Bale and Kroos have been linked with moves away.

Real’s rivals Barcelona are a commanding presence in the top 20. As well as Messi, the club features three other players: Philippe Coutinho (8th), Luis Suarez (10th) and Gerard Pique (11th). Again, Coutinho is likely to be finding a new club come the end of this season.

The appearance of two Chinese clubs, Shanghai SIPG and Hebei China Fortune, points to the continued determination of the Asian nation to establish itself as a global footballing superpower. The two clubs have been on the list for a number of years now – showing that China’s forays into European markets are unlikely end soon.

A notable omission from the list is Bayern Munich, who have previously been a mainstay. The German club had a difficult start to the season, were recently knocked out of the Champions League by Liverpool, and have an ageing squad. Should they put focus on rebuilding this summer, they could re-enter the chart next year.

You can see the top 20 highest paid players, and their annual income, below:

20. Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid

€23 million (£19.7m)

19. Paul Pogba, Manchester United

€23.3 million (£20m)

18. Hulk, Shanghai SIPG

€23.4 million (£20.1m)

17. Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City

€23.5 million (£20.2m)

16. Sergio Aguero, Manchester City

€24.3 million (£20.8m)

15. Oscar, Shanghai SIPG

€24.3 million (£20.8m)

14. Kylian Mbappe, Paris Saint-Germain

€25 million (£21.4m)

13. Mesut Ozil, Arsenal

€25.8 million (£22.1m)

12. Toni Kroos, Real Madrid

€26.3 million (£22.6m)

11. Gerard Pique, Barcelona

€27 million (£23.2m)

10. Luis Suarez, Barcelona

€28 million (£24m)

9. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hebei China Fortune

€28.3 million (£24.3m)

8. Philippe Coutino, Barcelona

€30 million (£25.7m)

7. Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United

€30.7 million (£26.3m)

6. Andres Iniesta, Vissel Kobe

€33 million (£28.3m)

5. Gareth Bale, Real Madrid

€40.2 million (£34.5m)

4. Antoine Griezmann, Atletico Madrid

€44 million (£38m)

3. Neymar, Paris Saint-Germain

€91.5 million (£79m)

2. Cristiano Ronaldo, Juventus

€113 million (£97m)

1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona

€130 million (£112m)

NOW READ…

UNPOPULAR OPINION Why it’s absolutely fine to support more than one team

MONEY TALKS Financial Fair Play vs fairy tales: the Football League’s intractable fiscal conundrum

INSIDE STORY The secret Champions League talks you didn’t know about – and how they could change European football

While you're here, why not take advantage of our brilliant new subscribers' offer? Get 5 copies of the world's greatest football magazine for just £5 – the game's greatest stories and finest journalism direct to your door for less than the cost of a London pint. Cheers!

New features you’ll love on FourFourTwo.com